Healthcare leaders target AI and automation to address financial, operational pressures

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Healthcare leaders are increasingly turning to automation and AI technologies to address the significant financial and operational pressures caused by staff shortages, according to Philips’ Future Health Index 2024 report.

The report, based on research among 3,000 healthcare leaders across 14 countries, found 85% of healthcare leaders are either investing in or planning to invest in generative AI (GenAI) technologies, aiming to streamline processes and reduce delays in patient care.

This focus on AI comes as nearly two-thirds (66%) of healthcare leaders report heightened burnout, stress and mental health issues within their workforce, leading to a deterioration in work-life balance and reduced morale.

Use of AI for clinical decision support is already being utilized for in-hospital patient monitoring by 43% of respondents, with further investments planned over the next three years.

For radiology, 36% of respondents said they had already implemented AI, with 35% intending to do so in the next three years.

Automation of repetitive tasks and processes was recognized by 92% of healthcare leaders as critical for addressing staff shortages and helping alleviate some of the administrative burdens currently overwhelming healthcare professionals.


However, nearly two-thirds (65%) of leaders reported skepticism among healthcare staff regarding the use of automation, raising concerns about quality assurance and the potential loss of essential skills and knowledge.

Despite these concerns, leaders said they were optimistic about the benefits of automation, with 41% planning to implement it for workflow prioritization.

“It didn’t come as a surprise to me that clinical documentation or note taking is among the top three areas where healthcare leaders plan to implement automation in the next three years,” said Shez Partovi, chief innovation and strategy officer at Philips.

Partovi added quality assurance in automation is a must and more evidence of its effectiveness is essential.

“Used right, automation is not about replacing the skills of physicians – it’s about liberating them from tedious work they shouldn’t be doing in the first place,” Partovi said.

Despite the promise of GenAI and other emerging technologies, the report revealed financial challenges remain a significant concern, with 81% of leaders noting a direct impact on patients.

Around six in 10 of healthcare leaders surveyed reported being unable to invest in new or advanced medical equipment or technologies.

Despite these financial constraints, 89% of healthcare leaders are planning growth strategies to serve more patients or expand services.

“At the heart of that approach will be integration of innovative technology that for instance saves staff time, enables better data integration, or supports different means of care, reflected in future investment in areas such as preventive care and community health,” Partovi said.

Virtual care is also being leveraged to bridge staffing gaps, with 89% of leaders already seeing a positive impact.

More than half (54%) believe that virtual care enables more flexible work schedules and creates new career options for healthcare professionals.

Remote monitoring is seen as particularly beneficial for patients and staff alike, reducing the strain on hospital resources and providing more positive patient experiences.

Partovi noted some of the most-cited benefits of virtual care include increased capacity to serve patients (38%), improved collaboration between healthcare professionals in different locations (37%) and reduced on-site staff required for certain roles (34%).

Healthcare leaders said they plan to expand remote patient monitoring into areas such as telestroke care (40%), maternal and fetal health (36%), and postoperative monitoring (35%) within the next three years.

“Virtual care has helped them elevate their facility’s standards of care, improve patient throughput, and reduce waiting times,” Partovi said.


According to the 2023-2032 National Health Expenditure Projections released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospital spending is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7% over the next eight years.

A significant increase of 10.1% is expected in 2023 compared to 2.2% in 2022, while physician and clinical-services spending is expected to average 5.6% growth from 2023 to 2032, peaking at 8.4% in 2023.

Burnout continues to be a major issue for healthcare workers, with seven in 10 physicians working while on vacation or on their days off, according to a JAMA Open Network report published in January.

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The HIMSS AI in Healthcare Forum is scheduled to take place September 5-6 in Boston. Learn more and register.


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